Robinson Cano is close to returning, manager Lloyd McClendon said, but just how close is still to be determined.

Cano missed his fourth straight game because of a bruise on his left hand. That bruise makes it painful for Cano to swing a bat, and McClendon said the Mariners want to make sure Cano returns without any fear of aggravating the injury.

Cano has played at least 159 games in each of the past seven seasons.

“He’s a tough guy, but we’ve got to manage 162 games,” McClendon said. “Not a three-game series or four days. As a former player, I know how painful bone bruises can be and how nagging they can be, and the right thing to do is to get it quieted down so you can proceed and play again. We’re almost there.”

Cano hasn’t been able to swing a bat while out. He has taken ground balls and worked out, but he won’t start swinging again until the bruise is no longer an issue.

Notes

• Outfielder James Jones left the game in the eighth inning with tightness in his left groin. McClendon took Jones out as a precautionary measure. “I’m sure he’s going to be fine,” McClendon said.

Brad Miller’s solo home run in the seventh inning did more than give the Mariners an insurance run. It also snapped a long homerless drought for Miller. He hadn’t homered since April 11, a stretch that included 130 plate appearances.

Miller’s average had dipped to .158 entering Sunday, but McClendon was hoping Miller’s home run might provide a spark for his struggling shortstop.

“He’s been grinding, really working hard, and it’s been a tough go,” McClendon said. “Like I told him, ‘You make it through this and you’ll be battle tested.’ ”

Nick Franklin was out of the starting lineup after watching his batting average fall to .128. Franklin is 0 for his last 14 with nine strikeouts. Since being recalled from Class AAA Tacoma, Franklin has just four hits — all singles — in 31 at-bats. He has walked once while striking out 15 times.

“He just hasn’t had any success,” McClendon said. “We’ve tried to put him in situations where we thought he could be successful. Right now, he’s just in a funk and struggling. He needs to fight his way out of it.”

It’s because of those struggles that McClendon started veteran utilityman Willie Bloomquist, and not Franklin, at second in place of the injured Cano.

Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or jjenks@seattletimes.com